Wednesday, September 1, 2021

On our way to Italia . . . with negative Covid results now in hand

Waiting in San Francisco United lounge.
We’re finally on the way back to our Montecarlo home after nearly two years of forced exile because of Covid-19. When we made the reservation, Covid seemed to on its way out. We were double vaccinated in early spring, confident we would be able to travel in the fall. Having sold 90 percent of our summer asphalt maintenance business (Hurrah!), we decided to leave September 1 so we could attend the last weekend of Montecarlo’s wine festa.

But just two days before our flight, headlines and our Facebook group discussions were full of information about how Italy is now requiring a negative Covid test for entry. However, we were confused. After seeing the headlines about tests being needed, we read further down in the text, and the stories seemed to say that people who had been fully vaccinated were exempt.

I posted on one of my favorite Facebook groups, “Traveling to Italy,” that we did not have time to get a Covid test and would be going with our vaccination cards and would use our Italian identity cards as backup, but the majority of the comments said we would be denied boarding if we had not been tested. We made an appointment for free King County tests and altered our schedule to drive 45 minutes to Tukwila. The tests would be administered just 24 hours before our departure, but the website promised rapid results.

Meanwhile I filled out contact forms required by United Airlines, the Italian government and the Swiss government, since we would be spending a night in Zurich. The Switzerland stopover came about when United changed our reservation about a month ago because of a problem between United and Lufthansa. After filling out the form and reading the links from both United and Swiss Air (United put us on a Star Alliance flight with Swiss Air), the information seemed to say that we were supposed to have a negative test . . . but there were exemptions, and one was for people who were fully vaccinated no more than 12 months before arrival. This exemption applied to both Italy and Switzerland.

We were not able to check in online because of the new requirements, but when we reached the United desk at Seatac airport, check-in went fairly smoothly. The attendant looked up the requirements for Swizerland and Italy and asked for our negative test results, but when I pointed out the exemptions below the mention of the test requirements, she agreed that the vaccination cards we had were sufficient. We were given our boarding passes without showing our test results—good thing, because our negative results did not come to our cell phones until we were actually in the flight waiting area.

We are currently in the United lounge in San Francisco, with a three-hour layover before our Swiss Air flight. We expect to have to show our vaccination cards again for Swiss Air, and now we have negative Covid tests to show as well.

Had I known how easy—and free—it was to get our Covid tests, I wouldn’t have hesitated when the news of the new requirements came out. It’s just that we had so many things to do before our flight—packing, preparing for our house sitters, finishing striping a few parking lots—that I considered bypassing the swabs. We might have faced having to quarantine in our home, and we wouldn’t have minded that. But I’m thankful for the warnings I received from my Facebook group, even if they weren’t completely accurate. I don’t like leaving things to chance, and now I feel completely secure that the rest of our travel will go well. We won’t have to face getting Covid tests in Italy or any additional red tape we might have faced.

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